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Mississippi Supreme Court upholds conviction in drug case

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JACKSON, Mississippi — The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a new sentencing hearing for a Lowndes County man for sale of cocaine.

Freddie Webber is serving 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty during a trial in September of 2011. Webber was found to be a habitual offender. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 2013.

In his post-conviction petition, Webber argued prosecutors shouldn't have been allowed to amend the indictment during his trial to seek harsher punishment under the habitual offender statute.

Prosecutors argued the indictment was properly amended before it rested its case against Webber. They say Webber was not prevented from putting on a defense to oppose the habitual offender issue.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said prosecutors surprise Webber's defense with the habitual offender amendment to the indictment. The court also said the judge erred in accepting the amended indictment and sentencing Webber.

Justice Jim Kitchens, writing for the court, said Webber was denied his right to present a defense.

Kitchens said Webber's case will be returned to Lowndes County for resentencing as a non-habitual offender.

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